Most people think that weight lifting belts are designed and sold to support the back, and while a good belt will stabilize your entire midsection by increasing intra-abdominal pressure, itís not the main function of a lifting belt. Lifting belt design is very important. Typical gym belts, which are thin on the front and wide in the back, donít cover enough of the abdominal surface area to provide any mentionable support. When you want to challenge your bodyís core strength with lifts like the squat and deadlift, choose a belt that is wide all the way around, which will serve to support not only your abdominals but also your obliques.
Think of a belt as an enhancer to your performance, and not just protection. When you lift correctly, you should have a midsection that is strong enough to support itself on its own, through the majority of demands you put on it during your workout. Of course, thereís always a limit to how much weight you can lift, but you are not placing yourself in any significant amount of danger for injury when you donít wear it. The benefit of wearing a belt really appears when you need the extra support to increase your load with the application of heavier weights.
Lifting belts come in three basic designs: prong, lever and ratchet. The prong design is much more affordable and itís less cumbersome than the ratchet, being more flexible than the lever, which, when you find that an size adjustment is needed, you must go to the trouble of disassembling it with a screwdriver. There are basically two thicknesses of weightlifting belts: ten millimeter and thirteen millimeter. While the thirteen millimeter is tougher, the ten millimeter thickness requires less break-in time to wear comfortably. And a single prong is much easier to tighten than a double prong.